WILL - Focus - November 20, 1997 ~ Comment (0)

The Media Monopoly, Fifth Edition

with author Ben Bagdikian, dean emeritus, Graduate School of Journalism, University of California at Berkeley


(Duration: 48:28)

Book cover for The Media Monopoly

Ben Bagdikian was an editor at The Washington Post in 1971 when he met Daniel Ellsberg, who passed him portions of the Pentagon Papers, the top-secret history of the Vietnam War. Bagdikian later became a significant media critic, and wrote about the consolidation of media ownership in fewer and fewer hands in his 1983 book The Media Monopoly. "What we're seeing in the media now is a decrease in hard reporting as a proportion of the whole," he said,  "and an increase of soft entertainment features - which are the least expensive to produce and the most revenue producing." 

The Media Monopoly was revised seven times since 1983, and each edition chronicled an accelerating wave of media mergers that eventually resulted in five companies owning most of the major U.S. media including newspapers, magazines, books, radio and TV stations, and movie studios. "What is at stake is American democracy itself," he writes. "A country without all the significant news, points of view, and information its citizens need to be informed voters is risking the loss of democratic rights."

This interview from 1997 is the second of three Ben Bagdikian interviews in the Focus archives. 

WILL - Focus - March 14, 1997

Interview with Roger Ebert


(Duration: 47:44)

Host David Inge spoke with film critic Roger Ebert on the program Focus 580 on March 14, 1997. Ebert was in Champaign-Urbana for a symposium entitled Cyberfest. The night before the interview, Ebert had introduced a showing of a 70 mm print of one of his favorite films of all time, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ebert discussed Kubrick at length, saying that as hard as critics have tried to find a common thread throughout Kubrick's films, each film is " a completely new departure," and compares his filmmaking to the music of Beethoven. Ebert also discusses the development of the last film Kubrick would direct, Eyes Wide Shut, as well as A.I., which at the time of the interview was under development with Kubrick the presumed director (Steven Spielberg would eventually direct the final film).

Ebert also discusses the role of a smaller opening weekend as a way of building an audience for a film as opposed to depending on a large opening weekend to keep a film in theaters. He takes questions from listeners about Kubrick; silent film; Champaign's Virginia Theater; classic film restoration as a method of promoting home video releases; the differences between Hollywood studios and small independent studios; the difficulty of filming science fiction, and growing up on Washington Street in Urbana.

WILL - Focus - December 21, 1995 ~ Comment (0)

Double Vision: Reflections on my Heritage, Life

with Ben Bagdikian, journalist, editor, media critic, and author


(Duration: 46:02)

book cover for Double Vision

In Double Vision, Ben Bagdikian recounts a number of key events that informed his life as a journalist, scholar, and media critic: his dramatic escape from Turkey as a young Armenian child, his acquisition of the leaked Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg, to the transformation of American journalism over the past 50 years. 

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